Contact! Operatic Soapie invades the Suburban Netball Court

Contact! Operatic Soapie invades the Suburban Netball Court

When Angus Grant was a music teacher at Melbourne’s Mac.Robertson Girls High School, he already had the workings of his netball musical Contact! in his head, Georgia Brooks, one of his then students, told Stage Whispers’ Lucy Graham.

Ten years later, University of Melbourne graduate Georgia Brooks (pictured below) is in the cast of “a full-length suburban netball opera” at Arts Centre Melbourne, playing Kayla the Goal Defence, and says characters from those all-girl school days are “definitely present” in the show.

Opera meets soap opera on the suburban netball court as formidable coach Bev, a meaty Wagnerian singer, and the under-21 team from the Hyatt Park Rangers prepare to play their long-time rivals.

Georgia Brooks says audiences are sure to recognise characters from the netball court, from their school days, and from observations of women anywhere.

“My character, Kayla, the Goal Defence, is a little bit sooky. She’s the one who always has an injury,” said Georgia.

Twenty-four year old Brooks, who played netball at primary school, and now occasionally in a mixed team, says Contact! uses netball, the most played sport in Australia as a metaphor for the pressures and restrictions women face in their lives.

In netball players are restricted to certain parts of the court. Once players are identified with a particular position it is very difficult to change, creating tensions among players.

“When we get stuck in specific roles its hard to change, and breaking out of that mould is terrifying,” said Brooks.

Writer Angus Grant said, “There is lot of frustration about who gets to play more glamorous positions. Women are forced into roles they don’t want to do…which is a metaphor for life.”

Brooks says audiences can expect a light operatic production that is “modern and accessible”, and includes “beautiful melodic sections” and complex polyphonic vocal interactions.

Contact! was included in the Melbourne Comedy Festival program after being hailed a crowd favourite at Carnegie 18, the Arts Centre Melbourne’s new music theatre series in January 2011.

Under the direction of Cameron Menzies, the eight sopranos and one tenor will present athree-week season at the Fairfax Theatre from April 11 - 29, followed by a regional tour.

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